Saturday, February 9, 2013

Indonesia IV

A recent card from Indonesia in honour of my imminent departure there is afternoon for a short holiday. Card shows Tangkuban Perahu, a volcano in central Java that last erupted in 1983. "Tangkuban Perahu" means "overturned boat" in the local Sundanese language, owing to the legend of the mountain's creation, which can be read here.

Thanks to James who was in Indonesia for work.

One interesting thing about collecting things from around the world, is that you get to learn about differing national perspectives on historical events. Stamp here is from a 2011 set of four commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Operation Trikora. When the rest of the Indonesia became independent from the Netherlands, the Dutch retained sovereignty over western New Guinea, and took steps to prepare it for independence as a separate country, as it was culturally and ethnically distinct from the rest of Indonesia. Indonesia wasn't too happy about this and announced its intention to invade, launching Operation Trikora following a failure to get UN support for their cause. Once numerically superior Indonesian forces started to move in in 1962, the Dutch government recognised the Indonesians' resolve to take Western New Guinea and, not wanting to engage in a protracted conflict involving jungle warfare on the other side of the world, agreed to a UN transitional government that would be followed by a referendum on the future of the territory. The highly flawed referendum, conducted by the Indonesian government, allowed only 1025 military-selected men to vote – less than one per cent of the eligible population – and diplomatic cables widely speculate that those men were coerced to vote in favour of integration with Indonesia. To my mind, this shady episode of Indonesia history would be better suited as a skeleton in the closet rather than celebrated in a stamp series, but therein lies the interest in seeing things from different perspectives!

You can read more about the Free Papua Movement here.

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